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Statewide System of Support (SSoS)

First Year Participation and Planning Year Guidance

What Special Education & General Education Administrators Need to Know

General Information

The Making Money Matter (M3) project is part of the Massachusetts Results Driven Accountability (RDA) initiative, and promotes targeted use of federal special education funds in ways that are designed to lead to improved outcomes for students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).

The title of this initiative, Making Money Matter, represents the power of leveraging a small percentage of funds to effect systemic impact on outcomes for students with IEPs. The nomenclature, M3 (M cubed) focuses on the exponential benefits districts can obtain with this set aside to outcomes for individual students through system level improvements.

For the first year of M3 participation and at least every 3 years thereafter that the district continues its participation, the district's M3 redirection of 240 funds and corresponding work should focus data team efforts on assessment of achievement and opportunity gaps for your students with IEPs, identifying the root causes for those gaps, and developing both a 3-year Strategic Plan for improving the outcomes of students with IEPs and an annual intervention Action Plan for implementation, using an evidence-based planning framework.

The district is required to engage in self-assessment and evidence-based planning processes that are broad in scope including multiple indicators of successful outcomes for students with IEPs. For this reason, DESE recommends immediately reviewing results from the district's most recent Coordinated Program Review or Mid-Cycle Review, and reviewing district performance in relation to the indicators specified in the Massachusetts State Performance Plan and Annual Performance Report (SPP/APR).

Because outcomes for students with IEPs are dependent upon student access to the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and participation in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), your district's M3 planning process and work should prioritize:

  • leveraging your district's general education and special education systems' strengths, and
  • collaboration between your district's general education and special education administrators and educators.

The district's M3 planning process, goals, and strategies should be coherent with the district's sustainable improvement plans and priorities for all students. Additionally, the M3 work must target the outcomes of students with IEPs, addressing the gaps and needs identified in the Needs Intervention determination, the effectiveness of local special education programs and services, and improving the application of the district standards and indicators to special education systems.

Districts should align M3 initiatives coherently with their district improvement strategies, emphasizing accelerated learning with high quality, rigorous, culturally responsive, Tier I grade level instruction. Districts should prioritize services at any schools that have been identified for achievement gaps in the Students with Disabilities category under the MA Accountability Framework.

Districts engaged in sustainable improvement in partnership with the DESE Statewide System of Support (SSoS) are strongly encouraged to consult with their DESE SSoS representative in the assessment, planning, development, implementation, and review of initiatives under this M3 program.

Process Framework and Early Planning Benchmarks

In a district M3 (re)assessment and planning year, the district's early planning should focus on the planning process itself and the steps that are necessary to identify the following:

  • student outcomes that are most urgently in need of improvement in the district;
  • systems-level barriers and gaps that impact the district's capacity to improve the targeted student outcomes; and
  • evidence-based strategies that will make the most impact on improving the targeted student outcomes.

Identification and use of an evidence-based planning framework that includes process benchmarks or an alternative with the necessary elements is required. When selecting a planning framework, the district should consider one that includes tools and resources to support the district's planning process and will result in effectively determining the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the M3 work in the district.

Evidence-based frameworks that are approved for this planning process are:

  • Planning for Success
  • Success Gap Toolkit
  • Active Implementation
  • Data Wise
  • Using Formative Assessment for Results (FAR)

For districts that choose to use an alternative planning framework to those listed above, such frameworks must include all of the following essential elements:

  1. Data-based Decision Making
  2. Cultural Responsiveness
  3. Core Instructional Program
  4. Ongoing assessment — Universal Screening and Progress Monitoring
  5. Evidenced-Based Instructional and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports
  6. District/School Leadership that Facilitates Improvement
  7. Parent/Family Engagement throughout the Educational Process and System

Early process benchmarks are encouraged to assist the district in initial efforts to: select an effective planning framework, identify next steps, develop ongoing process benchmarks, design a monitoring process, and set timelines. When completing this early planning, districts should establish benchmarks and timelines that will meet M3 yearend reporting expectations. Below is a list of suggested early process benchmarks. This list is aligned with the Planning for Success framework, tools, and resources.

  • Special Education Administrator will begin conversations and connections with the district improvement leadership team.
  • The district administrator team, in collaboration with the Special Education Administrator, will begin M3 discussions with the DESE Statewide System of Support partner or liaison.
  • The M3 Planning Team will be selected and in place.
  • Identification and use of a research-based improvement planning framework that includes process benchmarks will be selected and in use.
  • SWOT (i.e., Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis related to planning will begin.
  • Stakeholder input plan will be in place.
  • Self-assessment & data review/analysis will begin with data team.
  • Root cause analysis and if appropriate, infrastructure analysis will begin.
  • The district's area(s) of need for system capacity building will be identified.
  • District target(s) for improvement are identified at the district, school, and grade levels.
  • Identification of high impact improvement strategies will begin.
  • Intervention strategy monitoring and evaluation processes will be determined.
  • Anticipated use of the year's planning funds will be determined.

Please note that M3 is not intended to require districts to duplicate previous work. If one or more of the above steps duplicates work completed by the district's Special Education Department, that step should be skipped and the justification for skipping that step should be clearly identified in the M3 tab of the IDEA FC 240 application workbook.

Multi-year Strategic Plan, Action Plan & End of Year Report

While your district's M3 initiative will focus on engaging in a collaborative and data-driven improvement planning process, this planning year must also result in both a high quality 3-year Strategic Plan for improving the outcomes of students with IEPs and a high quality Action Plan for implementation in the following year.

Strategic Plan

The 3-year Strategic Plan should consist of:

  • 3-year goals and objectives and priority initiatives (which may include, but cannot be limited to, professional development and coaching)
  • long term outcomes, benchmarks, data sources for monitoring progress, and the process for using this data to make midcourse corrections

Action Plan

The annual Action Plan should consist of:

  • objectives for the school year and how these are aligned with the 3-year goals and objectives
  • strategies to reach the year's objectives
  • planned activities to implement the strategies and achieve the objectives
  • early evidence of change benchmarks, including anticipated changes in practice(s), attitude(s), and/or behavior(s)
  • process benchmarks, including what will be done, when, and by whom
  • expected short term outcomes by the end of the school year
  • coherence with district improvement plans and priorities
  • anticipated use of staff and financial resources (from non-special education funding sources) that are being blended and/or braided to support the M3 work

End of Year Report

  • The End of Year Report will provide DESE snapshots of your district's process and overall project challenges and achievements. The Year-end report is due by June 30. DESE will provide a report template.

Please contact Abigail T. Slayton or 781-338-3517 with any questions related to M3.

Helpful M3 Guidance

Helpful Related Links

Last Updated: June 16, 2022

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
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